New York State has the chance to lead the nation in extending basic workplace protections to domestic workers — the nannies, housekeepers and caregivers for the elderly who are as essential to the economy as they are overlooked and unprotected.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Under a canopy of rainbow-colored balloons, several hundred gay and lesbian Staten Islanders and their supporters kicked off the borough’s sixth annual LGBT Pride Parade and festival in St. George yesterday with a clear message: We are one of you.
“We are here to say we are your friends, your neighbors,” said spectator Brian Hagan of New Brighton. “We sit next to you on the bus, in church. We are part of the diversity of the city.”
In a city of secret economies, few are as vital to the life of New York as the business of nannies, the legions of women who emancipate high-powered professionals and less glamorous working parents from the duties of daily child care.
Those nannies, as well as other domestic workers who make possible the lives of New York’s eternally striving work force, have long gone without basic workplace guarantees that most employees take for granted.
Every day, 200,000 domestic workers in New York make it possible for their employers to go to work. Yet, many of these mostly immigrant women of color are employed without a living wage, health care and basic labor protections.
"As far as I am concerned, these folks are the economic backbone of New York," said Assemblyman Keith Wright (D-Harlem). "[Yet] they are an invisible segment of society."